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March 15-21: 

Case Numbers Continue to Trend Well as New Issues Arise 

Covid numbers continue to trend in the right direction, but the number of active cases in the county didn't decline this past week.  

The county reported 197 new confirmed cases and moved 180 individuals off quarantine. 

This allowed the active cases to drift up over 300 again, standing at 306. The county also experienced threeadditional fatalities, leaving its death toll due to the virus at 191. 

The hope is that the numbers remain stable or  decline. The fear is that new variants continue to emerge.  

For weeks, the state dashboard tracked the occurrence of three major variants in the state. The one with the largest presence is B.1.1.7, the variant first identified in the United Kingdom. It is the only variant with confirmed cases in Cape May County. The dashboard reports 17 county cases compared to three one week ago. 

The new worry is B.1.526, first identified in New York City. It is the newest and therefore the least well-known of the variants. Not enough is yet known about the “homegrown” variant and its susceptibility to the vaccines. 

One year after the first Covid case in the county, the pandemic is still the major news story, with several new developments. 

This week, new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines were issued that will allow children to sit closer together in school, permitting facilities to handle more students for in-person instruction. 

The medical community also gave a formal name to the syndrome that plagued several individuals who recovered from Covid. No longer just known as “long-haulers,” the individuals who suffer Covid symptoms for extended periods after being free of the virus have a condition the National Institutes of Health (NIH) is calling “Post-Acute Sequelae of SARS-CoV-2 infection” (PASC). 

This week, health officials continue to urge adherence to health protocols, including the use of face coverings and practicing social distancing in public. Lockdowns across Europe provoked pleas from officials, who worry Americans will let their guard down too soon. 

Vaccinations are proceeding well, with supplies increasing. State figures show that just under 50,000 doses were administered in Cape May County, as of March 21. Wilmington Veterans Affairs Medical Center is offering the vaccines to all enrolled veterans, regardless of age. 

Gov. Phil Murphy continues to ease restrictions incrementally, including those on outdoor interstate youth sports, but many in the business community say they need greater flexibility, especially in areas of the economy, like live events, child care and in-store retail.  

The governor offered some budget flexibility to school districts, as they formulate budgets for the 2021-2022 academic year. 

Municipal, County Happenings  

Budgets continue to occupy municipal leaders’ attention. This week, Woodbine, Cape May and Stone Harbor introduced 2021 budgets.  

In Woodbine and Cape May, budgets called for a zero tax increase. There is a tax increase included in Stone Harbor's budget. 

In Stone Harbor, the governing body approved the use of capital funds for three new platform tennis courts, at the 96th Street recreation area. The borough also reintroduced a lot grading ordinance, with a controversial provision concerning the strip from the sidewalk to curb removed.  

The litigation over the use of sand from Hereford Inlet for beach fills progresses, possibly requiring the borough to replenish the legal services account for the effort. 

Marijuana legalization remains a concern in many county municipalities, with Ocean City taking steps to ban cannabis business entities from the city. Cape May introduced an ordinanceforbidding marijuana smoking in public places. 

Middle Township reiterated its support for an out-of-state company seeking to open a medical marijuana dispensary, on Indian Trail Road. The development of such a facility awaits a final decision from the state on the required license.  

Meanwhile, the municipality announced hurdles were cleared, and construction on the final leg of the bike pathconnecting Middle Township with Dennis Township should  start by mid-summer.  

The municipality also adopted an ordinance allowing the sale of alcoholic beverages on Sunday mornings. 

Cape May continues to debate the need to extend its current rules permitting open consumption of alcohol and relaxed restrictions on outside dining.  

Cape May City Council made no final decision and extended the current rules two more weeks, while officials continue to consider the issue. 

In Ocean City, residents can take advantage of sessions that will help explain portions of the water bill that some find confusing.  

There are reports that an Ocean City man threatened U.S. Rep. Jeff Van Drew (R-2nd) and his family.  

Word is that the fire-damaged Castaway Cove arcade will be demolished. 

Technical problems forced Upper Township to reschedule a meeting concerning the fate of a Strathmere hotel. 

Avalon Borough Council was asked to approve a person-to-person transfer of a liquor license, following the Icona's purchase of the Windrift. The borough also moved to reorganize its beach patrol  to bring additional management skills to the department. 

In West Wildwood, the seemingly never-ending ethics case involving former Mayor Christopher Fox may continue for several  months. 

North Wildwood erected new signage, reminding all about Sami’s Law, intended to provide additional security for those using rideshare services.  

Wildwood lost a legend, with the death of the founder of Sam’s Pizza. 

Just a week after ordnance was discovered in a Cape May neighborhood, another old military ordnanceappeared, this time in North Cape May. 

Substantial changes may be coming to stateland use regulations, and county business leaders are concerned. 

County officials say that15% of county businesses may not reopen after last year’s economic devastation. The county also said the prospect of an early voting bill, allowing voters to cast in-person or mail-in ballots before election days, will cost  $2 million or more. 

A father believes his autistic son may have been beaten, at the Woodbine Developmental Center. 

And… 

The Motor Vehicle Commission, in North Cape May, is closed until March 29 due to Covid infections. 

The state announced a second round of rental assistance for low- and middle-income households, with income loss due to the pandemic. 

AReeds Beach Road home’s occupant had a surprise visitor. A vehicle left the road and struck the home before being stopped by a tree. 

Spout Off of the Week 

Cape May - Let’s keep outdoor alcohol consumption in Cape May through the summer of 2021. We need to help the restaurants get back on their feet. Not sure everyone is really comfortable eating inside yet.